Full Circle Physics

Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) began in 2010 as the Center for Exotic Quantum Systems, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of its Caltech commitment. By 2011, it had become so successful that it did exactly what the Moore Foundation had hoped it would do—it outgrew its original concept, garnering wide interest and additional funding from the National Science Foundation to become a Physics Frontiers Center that studies "physical systems in which the weirdness of the quantum world becomes manifest on macroscopic scales."

E&S has delved into the thinking of several IQIM scientists about the frontiers of quantum science, the role IQIM plays in exploring that frontier, and the question oft thought but rarely spoken: Why should we care? Here—in a "conversation" assembled from separate interviews—are some of their insights into what makes the world of the tiny such a big deal.